The Sochi 2014 Winter  Olympics is in day five so there’s lots of talk in the media about what’s going on in the various Winter Olympic sports.  Yesterday I was listening to a local radio station, probably CBC Radio 1,  and I heard a someone ( sorry, didn’t catch the name) say that kids participating in sports and losing can teach kids valuable lessons. The speaker noted not everyone who participates in sports wins, in fact, the vast majority of people who participate in sports lose. He thought losing in sports could help kids learn how to deal with defeat. To be honest, I hadn’t considered participating and losing in sports a learning opportunity- other improving technique, strategy and trying harder. I did think about how losing in sports could teach kids something about entitlement: just because you participate in sports doesn’t entitled you to win.  I don’t think the trend to not keeping score when kids participate in sports and thereby not have winners and losers is especially helpful.  What does it teach kids?  How does that prepare them for life?

I think additional learning opportunities present themselves when  kids participate in sports and lose: kids have the opportunity to develop their emotional intelligence, their  ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions. Emotional intelligence includes

  •  managing one’s own impulses
  • having empathy for others
  • communicating effectively
  • solving problems
  • using humor to build rapport
  • remaining optimistic in spite of stresses
  • managing change

What’s the big deal about high emotional intelligence? Why is emotional intelligence worth developing? Individuals with high emotional intelligence are able to make better choices for better consequences in life and at work and are better able to achieve a balance between work, home and recreational life.

As I write this post, I’m beginning to see the teaching opportunity I’d have and the learning opportunity my students would have when they  lose or for that matter when they win when participating in sports. I could help them develop their emotional intelligence. I could help my students who win become more empathetic toward my students who lose. I think I could help my students learn to manage their own impulses, remain optimistic in spite of losing, and so on.

Maybe other losses students experience could also be teaching and learning opportunities.  I guess the thing is someone has to be there when students experience losses and help them deal with their  losses in such a way as to strengthen their emotional intelligence. I want my students to be able to take something positive away from any losses they experience. I want my students to be able to make the best possible choices for the best possible outcomes in their lives.






I used to feel quite anxious about starting to teach classes in the new school year. I learned to prepare for the new school year by taking certain steps.  I’d like to share a post I wrote earlier about what I do to help me prepare for that first week of classes.


The first day of school is fast approaching, and I really need to start to  think about getting ready for it.  I’ve been teaching for a while so there have been many first days, and I’m pleased  to say ( actually I’m quite relieved to say ) that I’ve found steps to take that make that first day and that first week a success. That first week is so important because it sets the  tone for the rest of the semester.
I’m going to remind myself of what to do to have a successful first day and first week by reviewing the strategies I use for each step.  I invite you to review each step  with me, so just click on the link I’ve provided in each step.

Step 1- Reduce Stress

Just thinking about  the first day of school itself can be stressful,  but it needn’t be.      Here’s why.

Step 2- Think positively

Think positively. If you have a positive attitude you’ll believe and act as if all students will be successful in your class. If you have a positive attitude there are no losers in your classroom despite what you’ve might have heard. Students will live up to your expectations. Think and act as if students are trouble, believe me they won’t disappoint you. Here’s why.

Step 3- Remember the nine lessons your students taught you about classroom management

Your students will tell you by their behaviour what they like and don’t like all you have to do is ask them. Here’s what my students told me.

Step 4- Create the class rules or agreements collaboratively

Create the classroom agreements together and students are more likely to buy into them.  Here’s how I do that and the Slideshare Video I use to review our agreements.

Step 5- Remember respect in the classroom is a two way street

Step 6- Get your students   to tell you how they feel about different aspects of school

Remember respect is a two way street going from the teacher to the student and from the student to the teacher.  As much as I would like it to be, respect for teachers  isn’t always automatic.  It must be earned. Here’s what I do.

Step 6- Get students to tell me how they feel about different aspects of school

It’s good to get students to reflect about different aspects of school in and out of the classroom.  The information that I get from these questionnaires help me better understand my students and informs my interactions with them.  I ask these questions.

Step 7-  Realize that a students emotional state will affect a student’s learning and behaviour

Realize that the emotional state of a student can thwart learning.  Consider this.

Given that school is about to start up again, I thought it useful to repost this article about using 21st century students’ expectations to inform our teaching practices.

Usually during the summer break after I’ve been away from the craziness of the June classroom for a while, a good long while, I begin to reflect on my teaching practice for the previous year. Usually this reflection includes reflecting on expectations, mine and my students. I want to be sure my expectations are reasonable given the nature of the changing 21st century classroom and students. I’ve taught for 30 years so some things have really changed and some haven’t. Today, I’m reflecting on things my students have told me they expect from teachers that really have nothing to do with cell phones, ipads, tablets etc or the 21st century. Students have told me they would like teachers to

  • not abuse their power and order students around as if they control their lives;
  • respect students personal lives and not bug them about personal things that are none of their business;
  • not yell at students because that just makes them mad and not want to listen;
  • not talk about themselves all the time and show that they’re smarter than students are because students find it discouraging;
  • not treat students like they don’t know anything;
  • have respect for students no matter what they’ve have done before;
  • listen to both sides of the story;
  • be equally fair to all students;
  • try to help all students have the best results in class;
  • give less homework because it is hard to do homework by themselves if they cannot ask the teacher;
  • give more free time in class to do homework;
  • give less homework because it is boring and takes away from time with family and friends;
  • let students eat in class because sometimes they are hungry in class and can’t stay awake in class;
  • not give homework before the holidays;
  • let students listen to music while working in class;
  • let students watch videos in class and not have to write about them;
  • to want students to pass their classes;
  • to be helpful, respectful, and fun to be around.

Basically students want teachers to respect them, but then of course teachers want students to respect them, too. Respect is a two way street that is constantly under construction. My students’ expectations help inform my teaching practice and enables me to create an inviting classroom where my students and I can do our best.

You might want to ask your students to tell you what they expect from teachers. I found students are not shy about revealing their expectations. The expectations also make good starting points for discussions.

goodclassroom managementI think it prudent from time to time to re-examine my philosophy of classroom management.  My philosophy of classroom management  has changed over the years.  When I was a newbie teacher,  I thought if  I used the right techniques for classroom management everything would be OK. Well, I’ve learned  and used many classroom management techniques over the years, but I have come to the conclusion that while  excellent management techniques are necessary for classroom success, they are not sufficient for classroom success.  I found that developing an authentic relationship with my students helped my classroom management more than any of the latest classroom management techniques. When kids saw that I cared about them, they better managed their behaviour in class.  I start to develop positive relationships with my students on the first day of school  by asking these nine questions. How do you develop positive relationships with your student?

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